Phrases I never want to hear again: The gender edition

There are a lot of phrases that really get up my nose. Some are new, some are oldies, but I hate them all and never want to hear them again. Here are a few; these ones seem to turn up whenever we talk about certain “women’s issues” (another phrase, incidentally, that I hate — mostly because the issues are pretty much never actually about women, but also because it makes them sound like they’re up to women to solve and don’t affect men in any way).

“Reverse sexism”

There is no such thing as “reverse sexism”. There is just sexism. By definition.

Sexism is not something that happens to women. It is not a “women’s problem”. It happens to both genders (although it adversely impacts women more frequently) and both genders need to combat it until it goes away.

“Strong female characters”

Like “feisty”, this is pretty much only used when being patronising about women — only, in the case above, it’s fictional women. The fact that the term “strong female characters” exists basically says how low we set the bar, when it comes to female characterisation.

When female protagonists in books and on screens are allowed to be every bit as flawed as male ones without being decried as sluts or slags or crazy bitches, I’ll be happier.

Great article on exactly this:
I Hate Strong Female Characters

UPDATE: Joss Whedon’s video about JUST THIS has just started doing the rounds

And, related:
Real Girls, Fake Girls, Everybody Hates Girls

“Having it all”

I want to hit someone every time I hear these three words together. Because it makes out like having both a family and a job is somehow women being greedy and wanting to have their cake and eat it too. And also somehow super difficult, which has the added flow-on effect of making it acceptable for workplaces and governments to get away with being unreasonable about it all.

I especially hate this phrase since having the totally normal things of families and jobs is something that women (particularly working-class ones) have managed to do for literally centuries.

And because no one ever, ever, talks about men “having it all”.

Some articles on exactly this that I came across recently:
The Question No Man Ever Gets Asked
Home Economics: The Link Between Work-Life Balance and Income Equality

“Not all men are like that”

Or similar, when people talk about violence against women, or rape culture, etc.

This pisses me off because — who the fuck said that all men were like that? Nobody. Stop trying to derail whatever people are talking about with your inane crap. You’re not insightful or clever.

I was really resisting the urge to include huge quote slabs, but this describes what I’m talking about very eloquently:

Women are increasingly being asked to modify our language so we don’t hurt men’s feelings. Don’t say, “Men oppress women” – that’s sexism, as bad as any sexism women ever have to handle, possibly worse. Instead, say, “Some men oppress women.” Whatever you do, don’t generalise. That’s something men do. Not all men – just some men.

This type of semantic squabbling is a very effective way of getting women to shut up…

The solution isn’t to shut down debate by accusing us of “reverse sexism”, as if that will somehow balance out the problem and stop you feeling so uncomfortable. Sexism should be uncomfortable…

Saying that “all men are implicated in a culture of sexism” – all men, not just some men –may sound like an accusation. In reality, it’s a challenge…You can choose, as a man, to help create a fairer world for women – and for men, too. You can choose to challenge misogyny and sexual violence wherever you see them. You can choose to take risks and spend energy supporting women, promoting women, treating the women in your life as true equals. You can choose to stand up and say no and, every day, more men and boys are making that choice.


UPDATE: This is currently all over the internet with the #yesallwomen hashtag on twitter. Check out this piece:

Not all men! How discussing women’s issues gets derailed

Guys, just a heads up that the majority of feminists don’t think that every man ever is a rapist

“This happens to men, too”

This pops up in similar situations, ie, when talking about rape or domestic abuse where the perpetrator is male. Again, nobody is saying that men aren’t sometimes victims as well. Sure, it’s rare, but yes, it happens. This does not absolve society from having a woman problem. It doesn’t make it ok. And it doesn’t mean that we somehow aren’t allowed to talk about women’s experiences.

So shut up, dickhead. Again, you’re not clever, or insightful. If you have nothing better to contribute than a tangential remark designed to once again derail the conversation, bloody go home, you’re boring everyone.

UPDATE: Someone was talking on a facebook page about this exact argument recently, and pointed out that the people that make these arguments never give a fuck about male rape/domestic violence victims or how the patriarchy or concepts of toxic masculinity hurt men, until they’re making this argument, which they’re only doing to shut up some woman and stop her from complaining about her experience and get her on the wrong foot. So always be suspicious of this argument.

Some brilliantly illustrative cartoons of what I’m talking about:
Robot Hugs: But men!
ShortPacked: Equal time
For some guys, there is only one subject

And other good articles about this whole topic:
Complaints Against White Ribbon Day Ad By Male Viewers Are Seriously Saddening
“That’s Racist Against White People!” A Discussion on Power and Privilege
FAQ: What’s Wrong With Saying That Things Happen To Men Too?
Things I Never, Ever Want To Hear Again
How to spot a misogynist (the relevant one’s point 5, not that they’re not all good)


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2 Responses to Phrases I never want to hear again: The gender edition

  1. Caroline says:

    Girls, when referring to adult women.

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